StormwaterStory Map

posted Aug 21, 2018, 12:29 PM by Howard Ecoworks   [ updated Aug 21, 2018, 12:29 PM ]

The Maryland Department of the Environment put together a wonderful StormwaterStory Map so that the public could learn about stormwater, why it matters, and what Maryland is doing to manage stormwater!  The StormwaterStory Map features two READY projects at the Greenleaf and Deering Woods neighborhoods.  Check it out!  StormwaterStory Map 

Sierra Villas - First Summer READY '18 Project Installation!

posted Jul 14, 2018, 8:28 AM by Howard Ecoworks   [ updated Jul 14, 2018, 9:04 AM ]

The summer READY crews have been trained and completed their first project installations in the Sierra Villas neighborhood in Columbia!  The projects were quite extensive and a bit more complicated than anticipated.  The area was marked for utilities but many unmarked utility lines were found during excavation, which slowed the process as crews carefully hand dug to locate the lines.  All four of the Crew Leaders are commended for their attention to detail and conscientious approach to the project.  The 510 sf rain garden, 230 sf conservation landscape and 410 sf conservation landscape will provide water quality treatment to a 18,553 sf drainage area that is 38% impervious.  Native plants throughout the gardens will provide food and habitat for pollinators and wildlife.  Prior to project construction,  the area had extensive bare soil and pooled water for extended periods of time creating unwanted mosquito habitat.  The neighborhood and property management company are very pleased with the results!  See below for details, photos and a video of the final project!  Thank you Howard County Government and the Sierra Villas neighborhood for supporting this project and providing our teams with valuable work and project management experience!

Lori Lilly, Director, 7/14/2018

Project area prior to construction (the brown matting was installed after some pipes were replaced under the sidewalks):

The project was designed by Chris Moore of Cultivate Landscape Planning and Consulting.  Here is a portion of the design:

During project construction, uncovering many utilities:

And the project after construction - Check out this video, which shows the extent of the work:

Sierra Villas.MOV

The Ultimate Plant List!

posted Jul 12, 2018, 2:09 PM by Howard Ecoworks   [ updated Jul 12, 2018, 2:12 PM ]

  • These plants do it all - they are shade loving, deer resistant, have deep root systems,  and are generally good for most types of soils!  Check 'em out and get planting!

  • 1. Chrysogonum virginianum-evergreen groundcover; easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in part shade to full shade

  • 2. Phlox divaricata/stolonifera-tolerant of deer, drought, clay soil, dry soil, best grown in humusy, medium moisture, well-drained soil in part shade to full shade

  • 3. Scenecio aureus/Packera aurea-easily grown in average, medium to wet soils in full sun to part shade, blooms well in shady locations

  • 4. Tiarella cordifolia- tolerant of deer, easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soil in part shade to full shade

  • 5. Chasmanthium latifolium-deer resistant, spreads, easily grown in average, medium to wet, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Tolerant of poor soils, but prefers moist, fertile soils. One of the more shade tolerant of the ornamental grasses

  • 6. Lindera benzoin-tolerant of deer, drought, heavy shade, clay soil

  • 7. Ilex glabra-easily grown in average, medium to wet soils in full sun to part shade, adaptable to both light and heavy soils, tolerates wet soils, prefers rich, consistently moist, acidic soils in full sun, good shade tolerance

  • 8. Geranium maculatum-tolerant of deer, drought, dry soil, easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade to shade, prefers moist, humusy soils, but tolerates poor soils

  • 9. Polystichum acrostichoides-best grown in organically rich, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soils in part shade to full shade, tolerant of deer, drought, heavy shade, erosion, dry soil, shallow-rocky Soil

  • 10. Tradescantia virginiana-very adaptable plant prefers humus-rich soil but will grow in a wide range of soils: moist/dry, clay/sand, acid/alkaline

Time Lapse of 2018 Ellioctt City flood

posted Jun 3, 2018, 10:59 AM by Howard Ecoworks   [ updated Jun 11, 2018, 9:26 AM ]

Below are a series of timelapse videos from the 5/27/18 Ellicott City flood. Ellioctt City Flood Workgroup member Ron Peters installed 13 cameras on the Tiber, Hudson and New Cut Branches 3 weeks before the flood with support from Peter Greer at Unilux security. EcoWorks and Lori Lilly, EcoWorks Executive Director and also Flood Workgroup member, supported Ron's efforts by obtaining a small safety grant from BG&E to help install the cameras. This type of video footage is critical documentation of the 2018 flood event.




EcoWorks Helps Inmates Plant Seeds for the Future

posted Apr 10, 2018, 12:59 PM by Howard Ecoworks

The Business Monthly featured Howard EcoWorks and our partnership with Howard County Department of Corrections in THIS ISSUE.  With funding from the Chesapeake Bay Trust, the EcoWorks team has designed and is installing a sustainable food plot with the in-mates after completing a classroom-based landscaping training for 19 particpants.  Check back here on the progress of the garden!

Historic Ellicott City Channel Maintenance

posted Oct 13, 2017, 7:14 AM by Howard Ecoworks   [ updated Oct 16, 2017, 5:58 AM ]

Brandt Dirmeyer, Watershed Action Team-member, 6 Oct 2017

From Monday, October 2nd to Thursday, October 5th, the Watershed Action Team, a new program of Howard Ecoworks funded and supported by Howard County Government, worked within the Tiber Hudson subwatershed to remove debris and potential blockage issues from the streams. The WAT team is a collection of five individuals that will spend a 10-month term studying, assessing, conducting community outreach and implementing projects in Tiber Hudson subwatershed of the Patapsco River. The program is similar to Howard County’s Cleanscapes program and is in accordance with the Patapsco Valley Heritage Area (PVHA) Management Plan. Although I had been working within the watershed this past year as a Chesapeake Bay Trust Conservation Corpsmember with Patapsco Heritage Greenway, my WAT colleagues -- with the exception of Maria Clark -- are relatively unfamiliar with the tributaries and branches that course around and through Ellicott City’s historic district. This past week was our immersive lesson on the stormwater and infrastructure issues that this unique watershed faces.

Since its founding, Ellicott City has had to deal with its share of floods. As a mill town built upon four tributaries winding through a valley of shallow bedrock, Ellicott City was designed to economically thrive upon the steady-moving water of the Tiber Hudson subwatershed. Unfortunately for our modern society, the water that helped to develop Ellicott City into a booming granite community is now the town’s most pertinent safety issue. Most all of the town was developed before stormwater standards were mandatory, and many buildings along Main St are sited directly atop stream channels. With an increase in impermeable surfaces upstream and within the floodplain that houses the historic district, stormwater is an issue that needs to be better understood so that the Ellicott City community can be better prepared for any future high-intensity storms.

Stormwater accumulates during rain events due to the prevalence of impermeable surfaces. As the water accumulates on the surface, it follows the path of least resistance. Generally, this means that the water runs into nearby streams, carrying with it whatever debris it can, including trash, metal objects, fallen tree limbs, plastic outdoor furniture, and other items easily swept away. As humans have developed upon forested land, clearing trees for roofed buildings, asphalt roads, and concrete sidewalks, we’ve reduced the capacity for the land to absorb and percolate rain through the soil and rock into the water table. The roots of trees and plants also absorb water for their own use. As we have reduced the capacity for nature’s infrastructure to assist with the dissipation of rainwater, we must develop our infrastructure to accommodate for the increased severity of flooding.

Although there are projects currently in the design and development phases to reduce the impact of stormwater within the watershed, if another severe storm were to hit tomorrow, the town would still be ill-equipped to deal with the excess surface water. In order to mitigate as much near-future damage as possible, the WAT team spent four days surveying the Tiber Hudson stream channels under the leadership of Lori Lilly, the Executive Director of Howard EcoWorks, to assess and reduce potential hazards that could cause blockages. From sawing and axing fallen trees to removing rusted metal pipes long-since functional, the team worked tirelessly within the tributaries.

As time progressed, I became suspicious that Lori wanted us to do this work not only because it needed to be done to reduce damage risk to the town, but also to give us an immersive, multifaceted lesson on hydrology & sustainable infrastructure. As we passed underneath recently-flooded buildings and around channel walls built at right angles, all along the way spending so much energy to remove hazardous debris (~2.5 tons of wood waste, plastics, and scrap metal), I can safely say for the entire WAT team that we now know the benefits of proper infrastructure development, as well as the intense power of water. As the WAT team spends this upcoming year canvassing the watershed and working with homeowners in Ellicott City to develop, design, and install best management practices (BMPs) such as stormwater gardens, conservation landscapes, tree plantings, and stream buffers, we will have the experience of this past week in the back of our minds, inspiring us to do our best work in implementing BMPs to reduce flood risks within the Tiber Hudson subwatershed.

For further reading about our channel maintenance of Ellicott City, see the report pdf below. (Note: there are pictures in the pdf!)

Greenleaf Bioretention

posted Jun 20, 2017, 10:12 AM by Howard Ecoworks

Howard EcoWorks constructed our first bioretention facility in the Greenleaf neighborhood in Columbia. The facility was designed by Howard Soil Conservation District in 2015. Funding was obtained from the Chesapeake Bay Trust and Howard County in 2017 to construct the project. Construction began on 4/6/2017 and ended on 5/19/2017. During Howard County Public School System’s Spring Break, the week of 4/10, nine high school students spent the week with the current READY crew to undertake the majority of the excavation. Approximately 80 cubic yards of soil was excavated BY HAND from two 800 sf cells. Rick Cascioli of Clarkesville did assist with some of the grading with a track loader and track backhoe. On 5/15, approximately 15 Columbia Association volunteers also assisted by adding biosoil to the cells! The facility treats a 1.17 acre drainage area that is 30% impervious. It will remove 9.1 lb/yr of nitrogen, 0.6 lb/yr of phosphorus and 659 lb/yr of sediment reduction. The project cost approximately ~$16,000 with a contribution of ~1,000 labor hours! The neighbors are very excited to be doing their part to protect the adjacent local stream and Green Infrastructure Network!

For more information, check out THIS FACT SHEET.

First Landscapes For Life Class Graduated at Howard County Dept of Corrections

posted Apr 7, 2017, 2:25 PM by Howard Ecoworks   [ updated Apr 14, 2017, 11:50 AM ]

We were really excited to graduate our first Landscape for Life class at the Howard County Department of Corrections.  The group learned sustainable gardening practices over a course of (5) 2-hour lessons.   Four minimum security in-mates will proceed to constructing their own on-site sustainable garden with native plants in the coming week.   They received certificates at the end of the program that may help them secure landscaping jobs upon release.  Several were excited about the lessons that they can use in their own lives, "Once you get a sustainable garden going, it will require less maintenance (work) for you," reported one participant.  Good job Howard EcoWorks team for providing these valuable lessons and thank you Howard County Department of Corrections, Howard County Office of Sustainability and the MD Department of Natural Resources for support.  UPDATE: Please check out this video produced by Howard County's Public Information Office:

READY Receives Melanie Teems Award from Chesapeake Bay Trust

posted Jan 19, 2017, 7:43 AM by Howard Ecoworks   [ updated Feb 6, 2017, 5:20 PM ]

READY received the Melanie Teems award from the Chesapeake Bay Trust. This award recognizes a program that engages residents in efforts to improve the Chesapeake region’s natural resources through demonstration-based projects or programs, serves as a model for other organizations, and motivates and inspires other organizations and/or individuals by promoting environmental engagement throughout the community. We are very thankful to the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay and Howard County Government for their strong support over the past 5 years!

The Ellicott City Watershed

posted Dec 28, 2016, 5:11 PM by Howard Ecoworks   [ updated Dec 28, 2016, 5:27 PM ]

If you live or work in the Ellicott City watershed, the Tiber Hudson watershed, you can commit to helping your downstream neighbors in a number of ways!  Stay tuned for more details as we unveil a new program effort Ellicott City - Soak It Up that aims to engage those that live and work in Ellicott City’s watershed in small best management practices and non-structural actions that will improve conditions for their downstream neighbors.  

With increasing intensity and frequency of storms associated with climate change and subsequently more “top down” flooding, the need for upstream stormwater controls has become readily apparent from the 2011 and 2016 flood events. Watershed engagement and identifying individuals and associations that support behavior change and project implementation is essential to achieving a critical mass of support for long-term solutions.   And, with approximately 20-30% of the Tiber Hudson watershed covered in turf grass, we have more runoff than we would have with native vegetation such as meadow grasses, native perennials and native trees and shrubs.  These vegetation types help to increase permeability and overall infiltration capacity of the landcsape.

We are currently seeking grant funds for this effort and aim to kick off our campaign in spring, 2017 with a demonstration project at St. Peter’s Episcopal church.  Our project at St.  Peter's will convert 4500 square feet of turf grass to native vegetation and a rain garden.    On May 6, we will celebrate our garden and St. Peter's contributions to watershed efforts at their 175th Anniversary event!

Do you live in the Eliicott City watershed?  Check the map and type your address in the search bar to find out!

Howard EcoWorks

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